As December Arrives

Hello and welcome to my post in memory of Toni Taddeo and the Tuesday 4 kept in her memory.  

December is a month filled with religious significance for so many. Christmas (Dec 24-25) and Chanukah (Nov 28-Dec 6). Christians speak of the light coming into the world at Christmas and Chanukah is the festival of lights when the light was returned to the newly cleansed temple in Jerusalem. So they have a common connection: the light of God in the world. 

Today's post is about December and what it has in store for us.

 


 1.  How much importance do you place on December holidays?  Do you plan and prepare? Is that part of the fun for you or would you rather dispense with it?

December holidays are very important to me (as are Easter and Thanksgiving).  I enjoy Christmas because it reminds me of the birth of Christ and the plan of salvation for all mankind. It is a chance for me to be quiet, spread some cheer and love to family, friends and sometimes strangers.  It is also time to give thanks for what God has done for me.  I also enjoy the happy mood that I sense in people when I go about doing my errands. Most people are smiling and very pleasant at this time of year though it is a bit different in pandemic times since I hardly get out to the shops except for essentials.

Although Christmas gifts are probably the least important of the Christmas preparations, I do love to plan and prepare all year for the small gifts I might want to give.  I like to take time to think about what to buy or make and spread out the purchasing all through the year.  Of course if I'm making gifts it also requires starting much earlier and I'm not always organized enough to get the crafts underway on time.

A gift I finished early this morning.

I also like giving and receiving Christmas cards and mail. This of course needs to be done in advance:  notes and parcels prepared, stamps and cards purchased and everything shipped on time.  As the years go by my Christmas list has shortened.  I think that is true of almost everyone I know who sends cards.

Although I loved inviting guests to dinner during pre-pandemic times, I don't enjoy the cleaning and tidying that goes into getting my small home guest ready.  Under normal circumstances this might not seem like such a big deal but with advancing age and health related issues I find this more of an issue.  Especially since I am in the midst of trying to downsize and get rid of clutter so things are not where they should be, or as clutter free as they will be in due course.  I'm happy to report that I'm finally getting to the point where I see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of getting rid of excess.  It's taken much longer than it should largely due to my involvement with Kenyan missions needs and my own health limitations.

Last but not least, I enjoy the Christmas carols, concerts and special services at church and in the community when we are permitted to gather. The Covid restrictions have made it impossible except for brief periods of time but I still try to enjoy through You Tube.

 2. Food is a big part of the holiday season.  Which foods and treats do you most look forward to having?

During the holidays we indulge more than at any other time of the year. I'm not really into baking seasonal treats but I do try and make a batch of Dream Bars or Christmas (Almond) Bark. On Christmas Day and New Year's Day we always have a traditional dinner of stuffed turkey with all the trimmings (or glazed ham)  and the popular side dishes like roasted brussels sprouts/beans/mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, green salad, gravy and buns. etc.  This year I'm thinking we might have something different like salmon topped with cranberries. I have yet to decide.

For dessert we usually have a pie of some sort with ice cream or a Hawaiian salad (one of my all-time favourties). If I have baked any traditional Christmas cookies like Christmas crinkle I will put those out too and maybe some store bought Christmas cake. Drinks are non-alcoholic and include a variety of sodas and fizzy fruit drinks (like San Pellegrino) as well as tea/coffee and store bought egg nog. Snacks include things like: deli meats, gherkins, dips, cheeses and in former days cheese balls and a pineapple appetizer tree.  I grew up in a household where my late mother was very good cook and she loved being hospitable especially at the holidays.  She/we made a lot of food at the holidays and many relatives and friends would drop by at any time, all day long to enjoy food, drink and conversation. I think it is a wonderful way of keeping a sense of community but this wouldn't work where I live now. The large menu ideas I've posted are for when we are having a larger group of people over and we scale it down if there are no guests.

Hawaiian fruit salad, photo credit: Campfire Marshmallows

 3. It is a season for family, friends, guests and giving.  Would you write a bit about how it all comes together for you in December?

I very much enjoy being hospitable over Christmas in particular.  Since Covid all this hospitality and visiting has completely stopped. I'm not sure I will pick it up again if ever we get a chance to do so because of decreasing energies and all the work it takes to prepare and clean up afterwards. I actually prefer one on one hosting so this part may continue.

 4. Life changes and traditions alter due to those changes. Has anything changed for you and if so how? If not, would you mind sharing your traditions with us?

Christmas has always been about spending it with family, particularly my late mom and sister and also my special needs niece. I can no longer visit my mom and my sister physically and so things have changed a lot. Now (my brother and nephew and) I like to focus on making Christmas special for my niece.  But for two years now we cannot even visit her in person. Last year, it was because Covid travel advisories strongly urged us not to travel.  This year, the atmospheric river and storms have totally decimated parts of the province and shut down the major highway connecting Vancouver to where my niece lives. There will be no travel in the foreseeable future. It is quite devastating but not as devastating as the many who lost homes and businesses and the few who also lost their lives due to the flooding and landslides.  Christmas has also been about hospitality to friends and to newcomers to Canada. This too will change drastically as I explained above though I do hope to continue something on a much smaller scale. 

 

In about the year 2007 I started a tradition of helping the grassroots villagers near Kericho, Kenya. I try to help them all throughout the year but at Christmas it is nice to remember them with a bit of money so they can prepare a Christmas meal.  This is usually a modest meal compared to our feasts in North America.  It includes chicken; either in a stew or as the main part of the meal served with greens and ugali (a very thick porridge made of maize flour). A more luxurious meal includes mbuzi (goat). If you would like to join me in helping feed a village family in Kenya this year, there is a link at the side bar on the right of this blog for your donations. Thank you in advance.



I'm linking up with Tuesday 4 today. Thank  you for stopping by!

4 comments:

  1. I enjoyed my time here today. The picture of the Hawaiin salad remind me of my mom. She use to make it. It looks even more festive with colored marshmallows. I will need to find that recipe now. Thank you!

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  2. Hello,
    Your decorations look pretty. The Christmas lights have always been my favorite. I would say Covid has changed us all, I am more cautious around people, even family. I am not a party planner and do not really decorate much. I think hubby and I will meet up with my son , DIL and grandson and give them their gifts, other than that we will have a quiet holiday. Your Hawaiian Salad looks yummy. Enjoy your day and week ahead.

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  3. I really enjoyed this post, Penny, and hearing about your Christmas. I loved reading about how you prepare and cook -- all the goodies! And your mantel is so pretty. I'm less comfortable with the larger hospitality than I used to be but I'm so glad we can be with family. I'm sorry this is going to be a challenge (if at all) because of the floods. Those are so scary and just tragic. I hope your family is unaffected, apart from not being able to visit. And I hope you are feeling OK and slowly but surely working out things medically and with insurance.

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  4. I enjoyed your answers so much. I'm hoping to do some Christmas cards this year.

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